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REGIONS:

RSF WARNS OF WORSENING PRESS FREEDOM

Press-freedom conditions in Belarus are worsening, with independent newspapers under threat as never before, warns Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). The organisation says at least 10 publications have been suspended, prevented from publishing or refused official registration since January 2003.

Authorities have also forced media support organisations, such as Internews and the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), to close offices in the country by refusing to renew their accreditation. Both organisations have been supporting independent media in the country [See IFEX alert: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/52012/].

On 19 September, RSF called on the Belarusian government to end the "systematic destruction" of the country's independent media, the same day the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) held a "no-work" protest in solidarity with the independent press.

The BAJ convened a roundtable to discuss ways of strengthening solidarity with international organisations. Participants included ARTICLE 19, the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations and the Ukraine-based Institute of Mass Information.

Earlier this year, BAJ was awarded the World Association of Newspapers' 2003 Golden Pen of Freedom prize for its "courageous resistance to President Aleksandr Lukashenko's repression of the media."

Visit these sites for more information on Belarus:

- IFEX: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/188/

- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=8007

- WAN: http://www.wan-press.info/pages/article.php3?id_article=1313

- BAJ: http://baj.ru/indexe.htm

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